L’Oréal Paris has just announced Indian model, actress, and philanthropist Nidhi Sunil, as the brand’s latest ambassador.

Already a familiar face to many, Nidhi began her career as a Bollywood actress. She has since been the face of many campaigns and has been featured in editorials and covers of magazines including Italian Vogue and GQ.

Nidhi brings to life L’Oréal Paris’ mission to empower women, with her advocacy for women’s rights coinciding with the core values of the brand. From her NYC apartment, we caught up with Nidhi to chat about her new role, her involvement as an advocate for women of colour, and, of course, get the lowdown on her beauty routine.

L’Oréal Paris

What was your initial reaction when L’Oréal approached you to become a brand ambassador?

It was so crazy because I didn’t see it coming at all. L’Oréal’s other Indian ambassadors are all A-list mainstream Bollywood actresses. I don’t think they’ve had an Indian ambassador whose a model and who also has darker skin until myself. Frankly, I’m an opportunist so I think it’s amazing to have a larger platform for all the causes that I speak for.

Which brand values resonate with you most?

L’Oréal has always been a brand that puts women first and has tried to make women feel good about themselves. They sign women as spokespeople who inspire women around the world, like Viola Davis and Jane Fonda who are not only highly recognized L’Oréal ambassadors but very strong political activists as well. I appreciate how the brand puts empowered women at the forefront to serve and inspire, which is what resonates most with me.

I appreciate how the brand puts empowered women at the forefront to serve and inspire, which is what resonates most with me.

Instgram: @nidhisunil

You currently use your platform to advocate for women’s rights in India, to share the stories of girls rescued from trafficking and abuse, and to combat colourism. How will you use this new platform to address these issues?

I grew up in India and I’ve spent most of my life there. The women’s rights organization that I work with is located in the south, and it essentially rescues girls that would otherwise be selectively aborted or killed. We shelter them and provide an education and life. These girls are going to grow up and form the next generation of women in the world. Colourism is also something that I’ve personally faced. It wasn’t like I was choosing to be a voice for it, it just so happened that I was confronted with situations that required that I speak up. I will continue to do the work that I’ve been doing for the past four years, the only difference is that my platform is going to get bigger. Hopefully, this means that more people will have access to the work that I’m already doing.

Can you shed some light on your work with the Invisible Girl Project

Gendercide is a huge issue in India, especially among the lower castes. It is forbidden for anyone to find out the sex of their baby before birth, as people will often abort girls. For those who cannot afford abortion, when the baby is born, it’s either smothered, drowned, or worse. Many of the customs in place also position girls as a financial burden. For example, the Indian wedding must be paid for by the daughter’s side, which essentially bankrupts families. Boys are seen as blessings who can financially provide, whereas girls cannot. This is what we’ve been trying to combat.

Being a woman of colour in the arts, you must have faced roadblocks at times. Was there a moment in your career when you had to advocate for yourself as a woman of colour? 

Yes, I’ve had to advocate for myself as a woman of colour, even in my own country. India has this strange colonial hangover where we prefer white skin, even if 90% of the people have my skin colour. We prefer light-skin Indians or even Europeans that we’ve transplanted to work in the film industry. Even though I love what I do, I’ve had to fight for myself. I’ve been told I’m too dark to be able to bring in a steady income or be in mainstream commercial campaigns.

Instgram: @nidhisunil

L’Oréal Paris is a brand that has been a part of people’s lives for a long time. Do you have an early memory of the brand?

100%! It was 2007 and L’Oréal had just signed Aishwarya Rai. She was their first international spokesperson at the time and also happened to be Indian. She was considered to be the most beautiful woman in the world; she even went on Oprah and became a success story. My friends and I would sit at the TV and admire this woman. That was my first memory because this large brand was finally catering to the Indian audience.  

Fast forward to today: What are your beauty essentials? Walk me through your step-by-step beauty routine.

I’m a skin girl: if my skin is healthy and glowing, I’m happy. I swear by L’Oréal’s Revitalift Retinol Serum. I also love using products with active ingredients, such as L’Oréal’s Revitalift Vitamin C Serum and a good moisturizer in the morning like L’Oréal’s Revitalift Cicacream Day Cream. In terms of makeup, I love L’Oréal’s Voluminous Lash Paradise Mascara and the Rouge Signature Matte Lip Stain.

L’Oréal Paris

What’s beauty to you?

That’s such an interesting question especially right now. Beauty is the thing that everyone is so busy exploring and trying to find a different perspective on. We’ve had such an established and standardized mainstream narrative of what beauty is for so long and the way that we feel about ourselves has been dictated by this narrative. Now, we’re in this process where we’re having a dialogue, breaking the norm, and trying to figure out what it means for us individually. I see it as this concept that everyone now has the freedom and almost subconscious permission to explore for themselves.

Shop Nidhi Sunil's Beauty Essentials

L’Oreal’s Revitalift Retinol Serum

Revitalift Retinol Serum, L’Oréal Paris

Price: $39.99

L’Oréal Revitalift Vitamin C Serum

Revitalift Vitamin C Serum, L’Oréal Paris

Price: $38.99

L’Oréal Revitalift Cicacream Day Cream

Revitalift Cicacream Day Cream, L’Oréal Paris

Price: $28.99